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A snowman in front of Woodburn Hall wears a Mountaineer scarf and hat.


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When readers respond, we listen. We want to foster conversations that enlighten, delight or make us think — but most of all, we aim to celebrate the Mountaineer community.

Collected below are letters from readers responding to the Fall ’21 issue. Letters have been edited for clarity. Add your voice to the conversation and send your comments to wvumag@mail.wvu.edu.


I enjoyed the recent article “Successors: Blind Ambition” about Dr. Jim Kutsch. I was fortunate to have been in the computer science program while he was teaching at WVU. He is probably the most intelligent person I have ever known. He taught the hardest subjects dealing with computer machine language, yet he is blind. He knew each of us, not by sight, but our gait as we walked down the hall to his office. He would say “Hello” to me before I got to the doorway. Whenever we were stumped by something in the code that just wouldn’t work, he would ask us to read the code to him. Then suddenly, he’d say, “There it is.” Of course, I would say “Where.” He was right every time. He was such a great teacher and an inspiration to all of us that nothing should ever get in our way of success. His seeing-eye dog was a treat in the classroom. Sometimes, Dr. Kutsch would drop a piece of chalk. The dog, who always lay under the desk sleeping, would crawl along the floor to reach the chalk causing the students to chuckle. Dr. Kutsch would just shake his head.


Julie Newcome

BS Computer Science, BS Statistics ’78

Tucson, Ariz.


In the downtime I have had during the Covid-19 isolation, I went through a stack of magazines in my family room and discovered a missed issue of the WVU Magazine, fall 2019. I very clearly remember Tom Bennett as the student who led my freshman orientation during the summer of 1966. He made us all feel very welcome, which was comforting to a small-town girl from a high school graduating class of about 65. I could tell, even then, that he was a special Mountaineer. I also remember when word came back to the campus that he had been killed in Vietnam. He was not the first person I knew to be killed there, or, sadly, the last. There were way too many lives taken. Yet, Tom Bennett’s death struck all of us in a different way. He was a conscientious objector – this wasn't supposed to happen to him! Thank you for including his prayer which starts, “Oh, God, shake me from my apathy...” We need his voice more now than ever.

 

Harriet Johnson Ottaviano  

BA ’70

Hillsboro, Ore.


I just received and read the Fall 2021 issue of WVU magazine. I was very disappointed to read the “Making a Home for Everyone” story on pp. 24-29. Growing up in West Virginia and graduating with a BSIE degree in 1978, my friends and classmates never needed to be lectured about being tolerant, understanding and inclusive. This story, like so many others in today’s society, cause divisiveness and bitterness among those who are being lectured by this propaganda.

I would hope that your magazine consider the impact these stories have on those of us who do not need to be lectured and humiliated by our government, press and universities about our past or our current beliefs. I have hired and worked alongside minorities from different cultures (including as an expatriate in Mexico) and never considered anything other than human potential and performance in my companies.

I hope you consider the impact stories like this have on dividing fellow alumni and our current students. In the meantime, please remove me from your mailing list.

Charlie Purdum

BSIE ’78
Boalsburg, Pa.


Really enjoying the Fall 2021 magazine! So nice to get one again.

 

I went to every home game for the 1969 and 1970 seasons, and I watched every one from the same place – standing on a wall! At the bottom of the steps that led into the stadium from the Woodburn Circle area, immediately to the right, was a concrete wall. I remember it as being between three and four feet high and eight to 10 inches wide. I thought it an ideal location. There was no one in front of us, and, except for a very small portion of the field in the southwest corner, the entire field was visible. We had to arrive early because the wall was a popular spot. After getting a bag of hot dogs with mustard, onions and sauerkraut at a joint on High Street, we would head to the stadium to watch another Mountaineer game from The Wall.

 

Paul Williams 

BA ’71, MD ’75


I was graduated from WVU in the ’60s and immediately became a Life Member. [of the Alumni Association].

 

I have received numerous WVU Magazines over the years, but your Fall 2021 issue is probably the best, most informative and artistic issue I have received.

 

You have developed a truly remarkable issue. Congratulations!

 

Fred Hoke

Lincoln, Neb.


I was delighted to receive the fall edition of WVU magazine. I graduated twice from the WVU School of Journalism. As a graduate teaching assistant, I spent plenty of time looking out the classroom window at Woodburn Hall and am keeping the photo you published on page 17 – great image!

 

Simple math will tell you that I’m in my 70s now, and my vision isn’t nearly what it used to be.  The text is small (I know there’s plenty of content to fit into limited pages) and I had trouble reading pages with faint grey text (34, 36, 38, 43-46). As I assume that many of your readers are older alumni, you might reconsider that design component in future editions.

 

It’s great to know that so many positive things are happening at my alma mater. I appreciate receiving this publication.

 

Amanda Stevens

BSJ ’72, MSJ ’74

Plano, Texas


For more than two years, I lived at 36 Campus Drive – the old Pike House – at the corner of McLane Avenue. I walked across the open end of the old stadium to my classes in Armstrong Hall pretty much every day.


For at least three and maybe all four (memories are hazy) of my autumns at WVU, 1969-72, several friends and I created and carried out our own tradition of playing a touch football game on the Mountaineer Field AstroTurf the Friday night before the first home game of the year.

 

I was privileged to see one home game each of the four years before that, 1965-68, because in those days the team welcomed every high school football team in the state to attend a game. Garrett Ford was our favorite player. Great days indeed. 

 

My fondest memory of the old Field is Kerry Marbury’s 100-yard return of the opening kickoff against Penn State (in 1972, if memory serves). Our blocking on that return was nothing short of spectacular. The blockers opened a wide hole in the oncoming white shirts, and Kerry kicked in the jets and was gone. (That unfortunately ended up being one of a series of games in the streak that Penn State won only with the help of the men wearing zebra-striped shirts. TV replays clearly showed that Penn State Heisman Trophy winner John Cappelletti fumbled before he crossed the goal line, and WVU defensive tackle Frank Samsa covered the fumble. But the officials raised both hands in the air, and that was the winning score in the game.) 

 

Other great Mountaineers in my time included (without limitation) the two Bernies (Galiffa and Kirchner), Mike Sherwood, Danny Buggs, Marshall Mills, Jim Braxton, Bob Gresham, Artie Owens, Nate Stephens, Gerry Schultze, Charlie Miller, Billy Joe Mantooth, B.C. Williams and Jeff Merrow. 


George A. Somerville

AB ’73, English

Richmond, Va.